WASHINGTON ― US President Donald Trump’s defense team launched its arguments in the Senate on Saturday by repeatedly saying “the president did absolutely nothing wrong” — but that Democrats did.
Trump is currently on trial in the Senate after being impeached by the House for pressuring the Ukrainian government to open an investigation that could benefit him in the 2020 presidential election and withholding military aid until it did so, and then obstructing Congress’s efforts to look into the matter. Trump himself has said he wanted Ukraine to launch an investigation into the son of potential 2020 opponent and former Vice President Joe Biden.
But Trump’s defense argued that Trump wasn’t the one interfering with the election ― in fact, they said, now Democrats are, through a process that has involved selective leaks, closed door meetings and incomplete presentation of facts.
“They’re here to perpetrate the most massive interference in an election in American history, and we can’t allow that to happen,” said White House counsel Pat Cipollone.
He said earlier that Democrats were asking the Senate to overturn the 2016 election and interfere in the next one ― something that could be argued for any removal from office in an election year.
“They’re asking you to remove President Trump from the ballot in an election that’s occurring in approximately nine months,” Cipollone said. “They’re asking you to tear up all of the ballots across this country ... take that decision away from the American people.”
Trump’s attorneys suggested at the beginning of the day that they plan to spend far less time defending the president than House Democratic impeachment managers spent arguing for the prosecution. While Democrats spent all of the 24 hours allotted by the rules, Trump’s team spent about two hours on Saturday and far less than the 24 total. They argued that they don’t need the time, again referring to the election.